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Category Archives: Sex work

Edinburgh saunas: Police Scotland’s non-legal partial criminalisation regime

Police Scotland are closing Edinburgh saunas so that sex workers will be “safer”. What irony. These sex workers are being forced into street sex work which is more risky, independent sex work which is a little more risky, agency work which is about the same. Or, of course, other massage parlours.

If they choose street work, they will suffer even more stigma from police and the general public. This means police will be less likely to believe them if they report violence against them by clients, partners or the community – just like what happened to @JasminePetite, who wasn’t believed when she reported to police that she feared violence from her ex, who later murdered her. This stigma also makes it more likely thhat these sex workers will recieve violence from clients and the community. Street work makes it more difficult for outreach services and police to work with sex workers – which is a very bad turn of events, considering that street work is the most dangerous type of sex work. They will also find it more difficult to change their jobs (or “exit the industry”) because the “revolving door effect” of being fined for soliciting and then having to work to pay off the fine will keep them in the industry. Criminal records also mean they’ll be discriminated against if they do apply for non-industry jobs. In fact, the stigma against street work is so bad that it’s possible they’ll be discriminated against when applying for some other adult industry jobs. If the police want to make sex workers safe, why not help them get into adult industry jobs which they deem are “safer” than working in massage parlours, for example adult films or agency work or pro-domming? (I’m not saying those jobs are safer than parlours, I’m just saying the police could take the option of finding workers adult industry work which they think is more safe. This would still be state control of sex and it would still be stigmatising and patronising, but at least it’d have, like, a sort of veneer of concern that wasn’t entirely see-through. ).

If the sex workers choose to work independently, they’ll also arguably be less safe because brothel-keeping laws mean that it’s illegal for them to work with a friend for safety. However, in the massage parlours there would have been other workers present so it was more safe. Police Scotland are not making sex workers more safe. They are putting them in danger, or at best simply forcing them to change their workplace or work further from home.

The owners of the massage parlours and any non-sex-working staff such as receptionists, managers, bookkeepers, PR staff etc will also lose their business and their jobs. This is just contributing to unemployment. Does Police Scotland see these people (and sex workers) as collateral damage in their plan to police our sex lives and destroy our labour rights and freedom to sell and purchase services? Imagine the outrage if corner shops, newspapers or accountancy firms were suddenly shut down and people were losing their jobs and having their businesses – which they’ve built up over years- ruined. But, once again, it’s different for sex workers and anyone who happens to work in or own any adult industry business.

Though Rhoda Grant’s Bill has failed, Police Scotland are effectively continuing her work by implementing, if not the Swedish Model, then a non-legotimised, non-legally sanctioned Moralist Model of their own devising. Like the Swedish Model, it appears to be a partial criminalisation, but a criminalisation of sex workers themselves instead of criminalising the clients.  No new laws have been passed to give Police Scotland these new powers. So what gives them the right to endanger innocent people, destroy businesses, ruin lives and disregard our freedom to purchase sex, seeing as Lothian and Borders Police did not feel the need to dominate citizens’ lives so brutally? There needs to be a clear law limiting the police’s power over our personal lives and freedoms, and to protect businesses. They’re not only putting sex workers in danger, they’re taking away all our rigts to sell and purchase sexual services and to start and run businesses. At least Rhoda Grant MSP followed the democratic procedure in trying to implement the Swedish model. But the police ignored any kind of democratic procedure or transparency; they didn’t involve the public in creating this new partial criminalisation model. I wonder what Rhoda Grant MSP would say to this new model – the model of non-legally sanctioned partial criminalisation.

Police closing saunas: http://www.scotsman.com/news/edinburgh-saunas-to-close-with-sex-trade-crack-down-1-3013314#.UfBkB83DsIw.twitter

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2013 in Sex work

 

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Abolitionists and the happy hooker myth

One of the main criticisms that abolitionists make of the sex worker rights movement, and indeed any opposition to the Nordic/Swedish model, is that sex workers and their allies wrongly believe that all sex workers are “happy hookers”. This of course would mean that to be an ally or against criminalisation, you would have to believe in the happy hooker myth. It’s quite a clever device, actually, because to suggest that your opponent believes in a myth that’s fed to us by Hollywood can instantly discredit them.

When I studied sex work (which our course referred to as “prostitution” throughout), my general impression was that abolitionists focussed on street sex work and the stereotypically poor, substance-dependent sex workers; the group best known to academics and lawmakers, while sex worker rights campaigners held the ‘happy hooker’ myth to be more true than the dim view of the industry. But none of that is true. I’ve seen sex worker rights campaigners who would probably be seen by antis as the epitome of the ‘happy hooker’ acknowledge their privelege and say that the Nordic Model is most harmful to vulnerable workers and trafficking victims. Just because someone is a happy hooker doesn’t mean they believe all sex industry workers are. It doesn’t mean – as antis often claim – that they want laws to suit them, the 10%, while throwing all the 90% non-happy hookers under the bus. And I rather suspect that sex workers who absolutely love their jobs are outnumbered by sex workers who just see it as a job, just another means of making a living in their long and varied work history. Just a job, with its good bits and bad bits. Sex workers are just ordinary people doing ordinary jobs; it’s just that priveleged ones who love their work and exploited or vulnerable ones who hate their work are the ones who come to public attention. It’s a bit like Michael Kors and exploited child labourers who work in sweatshops. We hear about them, but how often do we hear about sales assistants or fashion bloggers or the people who go out and source the merchandise? Without glitz and glam or pain and poverty, stories aren’t media-worthy.

Abolitionists also tend to categorise any sex worker who doesn’t hate themselves and their job as a ‘happy hooker’ – even though the person might be just as against the ‘happy hooker’ image as abolitionists. This means that abolitionists see every sex worker who’s brought before them as not representative, as a happy hooker. So you can’t win. Bring 10 sex workers’ testimonies to an anti, and they’ll say “They aren’t representative. 90%  of people in the industry are trafficked and being beaten and raped by gangster pimps.” Bring 100 and you’ll get the same response. But show them just one testimony from a sex worker who hates their job, and they’ll hold it up as if this one person speaks for absolutely everyone in the industry, from the glamorous Australian brothels (legalisation) to the streets of the USA (criminalised in most states) and those working for agencies in the UK (decriminalisation).

It does irritate me that the happy hooker and sex slave dichotomy is so prevalent, leaving little room for presentations of the majority experience. But then I’ve done nothing to challenge the status quo; this blog probably falls into the ‘happy hooker’ category, as Roland was respectful, rich, and well educated, and I was earning a grand a night. I’m also a student (happy hooker cliche alert!) and young, while many sex workers are middle-aged non-students. And maybe the existence of the dichotomy isn’t so surprising. After all, our understanding of most industries is dichotomised; I mentioned the fashion industry earlier, but what about the publishing industry? Jameses and Rowlings are the vast minority, while writers who don’t get paid are also a minority. Most writers don’t earn much and so fall somewhere in the middle, though closer (in my view) to the ‘starving artist’ perception of writing. Another example is business – the struggling self-employed guy running the local corner shop while being targeted by neds, versus the powerful big shot ruthlessly controlling an international corporate empire. And actors aren’t just either Zac Efron or the hopeful student who gets bit-parts in community plays.

In conclusion, the happy hooker/sex slave dichotomy is not harmful in and of itself – especially since both extremes are true, albeit only of a minority of sex workers. But it becomes harmful when the sex slave angle is worked to create emotive responses to promote criminalisation, which only endangers sex workers and creates more sex slaves. The sex slave angle should always be a reminder of how much harm the Nordic model, full criminalisation, and (to an extent) legalisation cause. If all sex workers were happy hookers, criminalisation would be less problematic.

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2013 in Sex work

 

My reply to Richard Lucas

So, the Bill fell. And I’m getting a lot of responses to my Adultwork profile. Life is good. I might post some of my emails to Kane, the poly dom. I saw them again today and got a bit of a shock. Howl! Seven days to the wolves! (copyright Nightwish – it’s a great song, by the way.) A she-wolf meant a prostitute and of course there’s my Seven Nights stories and fantasy…But before I blog the good stuff, here’s my hilarious (even if I do say so myself) missive to our friend Richard Lucas, a homophobic anti-abortion abolitionist who debated Laura Lee and Douglas Fox. You can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jzgc4PoBfWY I’ve got a reason to dislike -maybe hate – the guy. I don’t usually hate people I’ve never met, but this guy…he’s worse than Ann Widdecombe. And what he said…and my other reason for hating him, which only a couple of people know. This blog would be so much more interesting if I could just tell you. I guess I can say that he made me powerless and uncomfortable, even though I maintained control of the situation. He also defamed people, and I really have a thing about lies.

Anyway, Lucas was giving his usual whorephobia/pro-full criminalisation moralising to Scot-PEP, and Glasgow Sex Worker, who was Facebooking for Scot-Pep at the time, replied. So did Gaye Dalton and Matty King, and Lucas was of course steadfastly maintaining his position and questioning someone’s story of abuse in their childhood. (He also pointed out his views differ from Grant’s – yes, they’re WORSE!)

Here’s my incredibly long reply:

Oh Richard. Truly it is a privelege – nay, an honour – to meet such a uniquely arrogant moralist-driven oppressor as yourself. I bow to an inflated pride far greater than my own. Your sense of entitlement to govern the careers and bodies of your fellow humans is indeed a wonder to behold. Oh Lord Richard, I am so angry right now that I’m aroused and could hatefuck you – but all in its own time. For now, to work:

Okay: So, what you haven’t addressed is what gives you the right to moralise. Yes, you say you evaluate sex work “on its own basis” but you’re candid about your religious beliefs – for which I do genuinely respect you. So, what if Muslims, Jews, Pagans, Wiccans, Hindus and Mormons all got their way with the law? Every religion as a different view. Why is Christianity the chosen superior religion that should rule the masses? In 2013, should Britain turn from a democracy into a theocracy? When laws are based on religion, that is theocracy; so you are prepared to condemn these sceptered isles to a future of theocratic control? And come to that; why is YOUR brand of Christianity the supreme truth over Catholicism, Rastafarianism, Jehovah’s Winess(ism?) and those loonies who cast out demons? You want full criminalisation, and that results in murder, rape, increased trafficking and sex workers being arrested and so unable to exit the industry because employers wont hire criminals.

Their children get stolen by the state just because the mum or dad is working in the sex industry. You have children, oh Richard the Saviour of All the Unsaved. Imagine if social workers snatched your sons just because you’re a minister. Imagine losing custody battles, being imprisoned, being outed in the press, just because of your job. Sex work isn’t my career, unlike other sex workers you’ve debated. I’m not representative. But I still fear being outed. I know 5 people on Twitter who have been outed, as were Laura Lee and Douglas Fox. (I believe LL was outed twice- once in the 1990s and once more recently.) You cannot comprehend how much I wish I could say this with my real name. But so many people get fired for past sex work, even if it was 10 or 20 years ago, that I cannot risk it. Though it’s not my career, my blog’s existence and its explicitness put me at more risk of discrimination than the few other virginity sellers who’ve been documented. So, Oh Prophet Mine, the question is: are you really going to have women and men murdered, raped, mugged, exploited, fired, outed, separated from their children, stigmatised, discriminated against by potential employers, and saddled with criminal records JUST TO SATISFY YOUR MORALISM? Will you do that? If you are against prostitution then criminalisation – whether full crim or criminalising the buyer – works AGAINST you. It stops sex workers finding jobs in other industries and keeps them doing sex work. One woman was fired after her boss found out she acted in a porn film several years ago. She ended up going back to sex work for five years – the very job that her boss hated! Besides, other industries cause much more harm than sex work. We’re killing people in other countries. They are starving right now because we have to have nice clothes and drink at Starbucks and buy cheap jewellery. We’re killing animals. We get fat stuffing ourselves with chocolate and the farmers don’t get a fair price; their kids never get an education or enough food. This laptop was probably made by children working 14 hour shifts, or it’d have cost thousands of pounds.

Richard, if you’d like to buy my virginity, DM me on Twitter (@KalikaGold) Offers over £12,000 considered. I’m a Masters student, young, 22D, 5″6. Photos on request. I’m a bit bi so could do your wife as well or any grown-up children you may have (I could do you a family discount). (My original client went AWOL after I sold sexual services twice for £2,000).

 

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Why sex worker activists should support the decriminalisation of street work

First published on Harlot’s Parlour.

(I’m not a sex worker activist and though I’ve been planning this post for months, I wasn’t sure if I should write it; if I’m not a sex worker activist, or even a representative sex worker, then how can I tell sex worker activists what to think? But after a  brief conversation on Twitter, I decided to finally post this. – K )

If you’re for sex workers’ rights then you have to be for street sex workers’ rights too. Otherwise you’re not standing for ALL sex workers. If you think that your brand of sex work, whatever it is, should be decriminalised and that you deserve rights but that street sex work should remain criminalised, then that’s elitism. You’re saying that you’re “better” than street workers, or that you’re different to them in a way that you aren’t different to other sex workers who work in different areas of the industry but not on the street.

And if you take the view that street sex work is dangerous and therefore should be criminalised – well. Doesn’t that sound familiar? It’s the antis’ argument against the entire sex industry (including the adult entertainment industry). So, basically, you’re an anti – just an anti who wants non-street work decriminalised but is still for the abolition of street work.

Finally, if you believed that street sex workers have agency and can choose to work, how could you deny them human and labour rights? So it’s clear that to be in support of criminalising street sex work, you have to see street workers as having no agency or in need of “rescuing” by sex worker activists. Again, this might sound all too familiar.

And let’s be practical – criminalising street sex work in the UK has been proven to create what academics call the “revolving door” effect: street workers are fined for soliciting and then have to do more sex work to pay off the fine. While working to pay off the fine, they’re arrested again and hit with another fine, and so on. Which actually stops them from “exiting” street work (oh, how I hate that phrase – for all other jobs we say “finding another job”.) So, if you’re eager to rescue street workers, criminalisation actually works against your objectives. Not to mention the fact that a woman or man with several soliciting offences on their criminal record is not going to find it easy to get employment in another industry.

The Merseyside model includes exiting strategies and only uses arrest as a last resort, though unfortunately the use of exiting strategies instead of fines is, in my view, just as intrusive and is also a harassment – not to mention insulting as it implies that street work is unacceptable and that the worker doesn’t have agency. (That’s the one bit of the Merseyside model that I would wish to see changed. I mean, if they’re so obsessed with rescuing, why not rescue street workers into another type of sex work, like indoor work or, if they fit agencies’ preferences (or there are ‘specialising’ agencies nearby), agency work?)) Not that I’m for rescuing anybody anywhere; it’s just an interesting question why the police feel that the entire sex industry is exploitative but other industries are totally fine.

The fact that street sex work is criminalised might be making it more dangerous. Since clients were criminalised for kerb-crawling, maybe the law looks more equal, but it might be having the effect of weeding out the clients who don’t want a criminal record, leaving only those who might already be known to the police. How are the workers and clients supposed to report any violence they witness or experience if they know they’ll get a court appearance and a criminal record? The clients know that the workers might not report violence so they might not be deterred by the possibility of police action. (This could also be true of the sex workers, who might be more prepared to perpetrate crimes against clients because they know the clients won’t report it.) I’m not just talking about violence here, but blackmail or theft as well.

Therefore, the more dangerous you think street sex work is, the more you should be in support of decriminalising it. While there is some evidence (in the Home Office report referred to below) that criminalising clients forces street workers to work indoors in relative safety, that was a small-scale study and it’s obvious that there are still street workers even though street work is criminalised in the UK.

References:

R. Matthews (1986) “Beyond Wolfenden? Prostitution, Politics and the Law” in R. Matthews and J. Young (eds) Confronting Crime, London: Sage

R. Matthews (2008) “Prostitution, vulnerability and victimisation” in Prostitution, Politics and Policy, Abingdon: Routledge-Cavendish

The Scottish Executive (2004) Being Outside: A Response to Street Prostitution (about exiting strategies and small red light zones in non-residential areas of cities. Proves that there’s only about 2,000 sex workers in all of Scotland who street walk OR work out of flats – meaning that less than 2,000 are street workers, as the number includes independent indoor workers.  Available at:http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/30859/0024989.pdf)

J. Phoenix (2000) “Prostitute Identities: Men, Money and Violence” British Journal of Criminology 40 (1) 37-55  (There is violence, but it’s not as bad as some NGO’s make it seem, and it’s hard to see how criminalization would enable these sex workers to report violence to the police or leave violent boyfriends. Oh, and non-sexworkers also experience domestic abuse, even rape.)

R. Matthews (1993) Kerb-Crawling, Prostitution and Multi-Agency Policing”, Police Research Group Paper 43, London: Home Office

 
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Posted by on June 18, 2013 in Sex work

 

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PLEASE SUPPORT THE MERSEYSIDE MODEL PETITION..

My first post on Harlots Parlour (the sex industry blog). It’s about the Merseyside model petition. Also, follow Harlots Parlour; it’s an interesting mix of sex work politics, musings, current events and what they call ‘citizen journalism’ by multiple authors.)

Harlots Parlour

Please welcome and support our new author Kalika Gold and support her petition to have the Merseyside model adopted by all British police forces.

The Petition

The petition aims to extend the Merseyside Police’s strategy (declaring all crimes against sex workers hate crimes and working in partnership with sex workers’ organisations to catch violent criminals) to all UK police forces.

You can sign it now:

SEE HERE

The petition isn’t in my name because for Government petitions, a legal name and current address are required. All names and addresses are verified – which took a week- before petitions are made visible. The name is publically visible on the petition. Although I’m currently still studying, I’m worried that future employers might discriminate against me when I graduate and enter the job market. I could have done a Change.org petition, but a Government petition has more chance of success because if we…

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Make the Merseyside petition a sex workers’ project by supporting it

Last night two sex workers bombarded me with block caps tweets for 2 hours about how I’m not a sex worker and am privileged, arrogant and too immature to be doing the Merseyside model petition. Apparently I’m a manipulative liar who made the petition because I want to “be a leader” in the activist movement, while also being the naïve poster child who has issues and is being used and “pwned” by Ruth Jacobs. They also seemed to think Ruth Jacobs is involved with the petition, when in fact we stopped working together well over a month ago and her name isn’t on it. I’m not going to name names or post screenshots, because this isn’t a reply to them and, (as far as I know without yet going on Twitter) they’ve stopped.

What this is, is a clarification: I’m not working with Ruth, she has no control over the petition. She can’t claim it as hers because her name isn’t on it. Jaynie’s  name is on it but posts on this blog, as well as Jaynie’s public tweets, prove that she only created it for me because of the legal name requirement. (All Government e-petitions take a week for approval while names and addresses of the creators are verified).

Before I realised a legal name was needed, I asked for sex workers to put their names on it since I’m not a representative sex worker (or, according to the people from last night, I’m not a sex worker at all). One person wanted to but then we realised it had to be a legal name, while one who I DM’d refused (because they seemed to think Ruth was still involved in it).

The important thing is that whether or not you like me really shouldn’t affect you signing or publicising the petition. Politics isn’t about whether you like the person or not. What if a sex worker met Rhoda Grant in a pub and didn’t know who she was – they might get along! But we’re against Grant’s Bill – her politics, not what she’s like personally. Similarly, if she were to make a Bill to implement the Merseyside model, I would support that while simultaneously challenging her first Bill.

Stopping rapes and murders is much more important than whether you personally like me. And I doubt that sex workers who benefit from Merseyside (if the petition succeeds) would really think “Oh I wish Merseyside hadn’t succeeded because it was a non-representative sex worker who clicked ‘create a petition'”.

If you really care about who created a petition more than the good the model can bring, it just hurts sex workers’ goals. Infighting over who is and isn’t a sex worker is not going to help with Merseyside or labour rights or anything else. Sex workers’ safety is the most important thing about my petition, not who created it.

And if I’m not a sex worker, that means I’m volunteering my time in a cause that isn’t mine and won’t benefit me.

The worst thing about this is the vicious cycle: that sex workers see this petition as an anti’s idea (although the model was created and supported by sex workers and the NSWP, as well as politicians and ACPO) so some may not want to support it. Then, because sex workers don’t support it, other sex workers see it as an anti’s idea. And so it goes around and around. And the petition doesn’t get publicised, and if it fails, that doesn’t benefit sex workers.

So what I want to say is this: It’s not an anti’s idea, it’s a sex workers’ idea and as we all know, it always was from the beginning in Merseyside. Ruth Jacobs (who isn’t sure about the Nordic model because it doesn’t offer exit routes and makes poverty worse) just wanted to expand the model to all of the UK. She didn’t create it and so owes everything to sex workers. And I’m not being “used” by her because I heard of the model at university then later on Douglas Fox’s blog (I think) and I’ve read about it on other sites and a Telegraph column too before Ruth showed up.

But, if you do think it’s still an anti’s idea or that Ruth was co-opting it, then support it yourselves. Because that will turn it into a sex workers’ idea if most sex workers and sex worker orgs support it.

I asked the two people last night if they wanted their legal names on the petition or what they wanted me to change about it. They wouldn’t even answer me about what they wanted me to do, instead resorting to swearing and name-calling, as they did throughout the 2 hours.

And I’ve been thinking, that they obviously wish I’d never made the petition. But if I hadn’t, who would? Lots of sex workers and sex worker activists have known about Merseyside for much longer than I have, and while there’s always been lots of support for it, nobody has done a petition that (if it gets 100,000 signatures) will be debated by the Government. I’m not trying to disparage all the activism, media work and demos that sex worker activists are doing right now and have been doing decades before I was even born. I’m just saying that if someone had created the petition before me, I wouldn’t have needed to and we could’ve avoided what happened last night. So how can they attack me for, basically, not waiting for a ‘real’ sex worker to create the petition, when they themselves didn’t create it?

The fact that Jaynie’s name is on the petition was seen as an excuse by someone else, who was implying that I’m merely the puppet or poster child of a hidden group, but seeing as sex workers are usually anonymous, I can’t see any way past this. If anyone is willing to out themselves and put their name to it, tweet me.

This isn’t about who counts as a sex worker or me working with Ruth in the past (which is irrelevant as it’s got nothing to do with the petition as I’m not working with her now) or what anyone thinks about me. Whether I’m a sex worker in their eyes or not, we’re all people, and people doing sex work are being raped and attacked. It’s these people who matter. And if who created the petition matters more than these people, matters more than sex workers, that’s pretty shitty politics. However we’re all entitled to our politics, whether they’re shitty or not. So if you don’t like me, don’t sign the petition.

But  I hope you do – not because I want to lead the sex worker activist movement (I mean, come on, I don’t even call myself a sex worker activist! And I suspect that lots of contacts, years of experience, tons of media work and influence in sex worker organisations would be required to successfully be The Leader of Sex Worker Activists.) I hope you do because I do want sex workers to be safe – and I do want the petition to be a sex workers’ initiative. If lots of sex workers support it, it WILL be a sex workers initiative and that’s how the media will see it (if it gets media attention or is debated).

Kali xx

 

Merseyside model petition & interview with Jayne Rogers

The Merseyside model petition is up! The petition aims to extend the Merseyside Police’s strategy (declaring all crimes against sex workers hate crimes and working in partnership with sex workers’ organisations to catch violent criminals) to all UK police forces. You can sign it here: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/49040

The petition isn’t in my name because for Government petitions, a legal name and current address are required. The name is visible on the petition and being a sex worker you risk being fired if you out yourself. Although I’m currently still studying, I’m worried that future employers might discriminate against me when I graduate and enter the job market. I’m not trying to say that most employers are bigots – I’m sure most of them are perfectly nice, decent human beings – but you never know. So this requirement is yet another obstacle to sex workers campaigning for basic rights and equality with those in other careers. I could have done a Change.org petition, but a Government petition would have more chance of success because if we get 100,000 signatures by 22 October 2013, the petition will have to be discussed in Parliament.

So, mental health professional Jayne Rogers created the petition out of a text that I drafted (the text is written to appeal to antis and feminists as well, which is why the term “prostitution” appears alongside “sex work”.) Jayne Rogers is neither a sex worker nor an anti. I interviewed her so you can all see where she’s coming from:

Interview with Jayne Rogers


Although the Merseyside model can be supported by everyone, it would be interessting to know your personal opinion of sex work?

I hold no hard & fast views on the rights of an individual to sell what is theirs to sell. I don’t come from a moralistic viewpoint. I believe people should be given information to make decisions for themselves & assistance to get out of situations that are damaging to them. I don’t believe people should be abused for the financial benefit of others. I have concerns about sex workers becoming hidden from sight & beyond the reach of  assistance if abolition became law.

What is your opinion of the Nordic/Swedish Model?

I’m not sure that the UK is culturally fit to receive this model, there is too much social deprivation which is set to get worse in the presence of increased unemployment which we know hits women & men from deprived social backgrounds hardest.
It would be great if no one had to sell sex against their will to survive but we’re not in that place yet.

Now that your name’s on this petition, What do you hope it achieves?

Merseyside model & Ugly Mugs scheme have shown an increase in prosecutions & reporting for attacks against sex workers. Training a select group of police who are empathic & targeted to understand the issues at stake to engender the trust & goodwill of sex workers is essential. Attitudinal change in public perception should follow if the police are engaged positively though there is a long way to go. The bottom line is that any sex worker should be able to report a crime against them without prejudice and as an equal citizen. It’s just not ok that anyone should be abused in any way, shape or form without recourse to justice.
Merseyside model is needed anyway to start a focus on the attitudinal change needed in the police force for sex workers to feel able to report crime, to know that it will be treated seriously & be treated with respect. It does not exclude the Nordic model but people need to feel & be safe now.
Sex workers need to have helpful no strings attached services available to let them work safely if that is what they wish to do or to have opportunity & support to exit with skills training, education, counselling, protection & housing.

Any other thoughts on these issues?

I really hope that people support this. I know there are differences in opinion about what model is the best way,  I am no expert but have been learning a lot from the opinions & blogs of exited & non exited women, one of whom has become a very close friend, I’ve learned a lot from her. It’s about time we made sex work & workers visible, listened to & treated as any other citizen deserves to be in pursuing their lives without prejudice.

Peek behind the scenes: I was curious about Jayne’s background in mental health and if anything she’d experienced or seen had made her care about sex workers’ issues. This is what she said:

I’ve worked with people who have severe & enduring mental health difficulties for many years starting off  like most health care workers of my generation working in the big bins. I started to get interested in the histories of very disturbed women clients who from early records of their illness had clearly come from a background of sexual abuse. The culture of the big bins allowed further abuse to women patients who would sell sexual favours to male patients, usually for one or two cigarettes. Nobody thought this was wrong or damaging, it was the way it was. There were some women who were more entrepreneurial who set up business as the hospital ‘slag’ usually raking in a better rate of cigarettes per sexual favour.  I came across a woman I knew well who was blown & past her prime at the bottom of the stairs one day in floods of tears. I asked her why she was upset, she said she’d had sex for cigarettes. I said ‘What’s new?’. She said ‘I fucked him for 10 fags, he took 5 away because I wasn’t good enough.’ The reality is that 50% of her income was at stake in a situation of dreadful social deprivation, she was robbed, she was abused. That exchange has stayed with me.


In more recent times working in community care in deprived inner city areas has made me acutely aware of vulnerable women having even less protection than there was in hospitals.  I regularly saw trafficked women on the street, sometimes being slapped & beaten in full public view with no-one giving a damn or picking up their mobile to call the police. In my job I saw women in regular danger of trafficking.

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2013 in Sex work

 

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